Now fully healthy, Adrian Peterson is a big reason the Minnesota Vikings are tied atop the NFC North. The Tennessee Titans hope Chris Johnson's latest performance is the start of good things to come for them and their star running back. Looking to continue their surprising start, Peterson and the Vikings can surpass their win total from last season with a third consecutive victory Sunday against the banged-up Titans at the Metrodome.
Minnesota's 3-13 season in 2011 was made worse when Peterson tore his ACL at Washington on Christmas Eve. Nine months later, he has recovered enough to regain his status as one of the NFL's top running backs, helping the Vikings (3-1) to a share of the division lead with Chicago. Minnesota might have a good chance to achieve that goal if Peterson continues to run as well as he did last week. Though the Vikings rank 21st in total offense at 321.8 yards per game, they are 10th in rushing at 122.8. Though the Vikings don't have the NFL's most potent offense, they have a chance to succeed with Peterson and the running game producing.
The Titans (1-3) hope to see improvement on the defensive side, especially if starting linebacker Colin McCarthy is able to return after missing the last three games with an ankle injury. As badly as Tennessee's defense has played, the team's biggest concern might be on the other side of the ball. The Titans have been held to 14 or fewer points in three games and head into this contest with quarterback issues. Jake Locker separated his shoulder in a 38-14 loss at Houston on Sunday, leaving veteran Matt Hasselbeck to start despite throwing a pair of interceptions the Texans returned for touchdowns.
Perhaps the biggest individual disappointment of the young season, Johnson totaled 45 yards on 33 carries through the first three games before running 25 times for 141 yards against the Texans. Christian Ponder has not put up huge numbers this season, but he managing games well and he has yet to throw an INT. While his WR corps is not a great one at least he will be facing a weak Tennessee pass defense and he will have time to exploit that since the Titans rank near the bottom of the league with only 6 sacks in 4 games. Peterson and Ponder could both have big games as Minnesota will have enough of an offensive mix to keep Tennessee's defense off balance.